Welfare State Theory

Neil Gilbert

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
Welfare State Theory


Public arrangements for social protection were conceived amid the decline of feudalism and the rise of industrial society. Prior to the 19th century many nations had assumed some public responsibility for the welfare of their citizens. The British Poor Law of 1601, for example, had codified efforts to establish local government responsibility for the relief of pauperism. But the birth of the modern welfare state is usually marked by the advent of social insurance in Germany under Bismarck during the 1880s. Most of Western Europe introduced social welfare programs prior to World War I, and the United States enacted national social insurance schemes during the Great Depression of the 1930s. These programs grew and matured, and by the dawn of the 21st century government spending on social welfare in the advanced industrialized nations averaged well over 20 percent of their gross domestic product. The literature on modern welfare states embodies a range of theoretical perspectives on the functions served by these systems of social protection, their conceptual boundaries, and the factors that have shaped their development.

Article.  6639 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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